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Thursday, May 31, 2012


Oh, my goodness!  Talk about traveling in a strange land with a foreign language.  I’m off on my summer adventure…a blog book study!  And you are invited to join me!!!

The book that we’ll be exploring is TEACHING IN THE DIGITAL AGE by Brian Huerling and it’s available at Redleaf Press.  (The discount code is STUDY.)  I ordered my copy yesterday and I can’t wait to get started! 

If you’ve never done anything like this before, well neither have I!  We can hold hands and stick together!

Party Hub: Preschool Spot (

Blog Team
Deborah J. Stewart
Karen Cox
Vanessa Levin

This is what my techie mentor Vanessa Levin (
has to say about a book study blog party: A book study blog party is similar to a real book study except it is hosted online and discussion takes the form of commenting on blogs or writing blog posts in response to each chapter.

How does the Book Study Blog Party work?
One chapter from the book will be discussed each week on a different blog beginning June 6 and ending August 8. An announcement will be made on PreschoolSpot ( when each chapter discussion is published to make it easy for you to follow along. Going on vacation? No problem, just subscribe to the blogs via e-mail and the discussions will be waiting for you in your inbox when you return.

You can participate in the book study by:
§       Reading the book
§       Following the host blogs
§       Reading the blog posts about each chapter
§       Commenting on the posts
§       And you can even link up your own posts with the linky if you are a   blogger (linky opens June 6)

We look forward to reading your comments and posts soon, Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Several years ago when I visited a classroom the children broke into this song to the tune of “Where Is Thumbkin?”  It tickled me to death, and I know visitors to your classroom would feel the same way.

Welcome to our room.               (Open arms.)
Welcome to our room.
Welcome visitor’s name.            (Wave hand.)
Welcome visitor’s name.
We’re so glad to see you.          (Clap hands.)
We’re so glad to see you.
Welcome visitor’s name.            (Open arms.)
Welcome visitor’s name.

After singing to your visitor give them an eye hug by smiling, closing your eyes, wrapping your arms around your body, and giving a shrug with your shoulders.

Thank You Song

Sing and sign this song to thank volunteers or visitors.  It goes to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”

                   We   (Make “w” and circle around.)
                  Say (Index fingers by lips and move out.)
                  Thank you  (Fingertips on chin and extend out.)
                  To.  (Touch index fingertips.)
                  You.   (Point.)
                  (Repeat twice)
                  We say thank you 
                  For helping  (Open left palm and place right fist on it and bring up.)
                  We say thank you to you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012



We Love Our Flag – June 14th
(Tune:  “Farmer in the Dell” -  “Happy Everything” CD Disk 2))

We love our flag.                  (Pretend to wave a flag as you sing.)
We love our flag.
We love America
And we love our flag.

Red, white, and blue,              (Hold up 3 fingers.)
Red, white, and blue,
The colors of our country’s flag
Are red, white, and blue.

50 stars of white                  (Open and shut fingers like stars.)
On a field of blue
Stand for 50 states
Where we live, it’s true.

Thirteen stripes                  (March in place like soldiers.)
In red and white
Stand for the colonies
For freedom they did fight.

We love our flag.                  (Pretend to wave flag.)
We love our flag.
We love America
And we love our flag.
       Download this book at, June, 2007, monthly activity.

Flags – Teach children flag etiquette and the importance of not dragging the flag on the ground.  Give children red, white, and blue paper and challenge them to design a flag.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Today is the day we pause and remember all the men and women who have served our country.  Every time you see a flag reflect on the lives that have been given for you and for me…remember the price that has been paid for our freedom…and remember most of all that we are blessed to live in the greatest country on earth!  GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


It’s Memorial Day weekend and time to celebrate summer.  Just for this weekend forget about school and enjoy being out of doors, playing with friends and family, and having a good time!  Our children and grandchildren are here along with our son-in-law’s brother and sister-in-law from Bulgaria.  I wanted to give them a taste of our “low country” cuisine, so here is what I’m preparing.  Enjoy!

FROGMORE STEW (aka Low Country Boil)
*I love serving this to company because it’s so easy and fun to eat.  Just boil it all in one pot and dump it out on a big platter.  Serve with melted butter or cocktail sauce.  You can even make a pescatarian version by omitting the sausage.  It’s good leftover so if you make too much like I always do you can have it for lunch the next day.

1 large onion chopped
1 large bell pepper chopped
2 celery ribs chopped
2 tablespoons seafood seasoning  (I use Old Bay.)
small red potatoes  (2-4 per person)
Polish sausage cut into 1 ½” links  (I use turkey sausage.  2-3 pieces per person.)
corn on the cob broken in half  (1 ear per person.)
raw unpeeled shrimp  (1/2 pound per person.)

Put the onion, bell pepper, and celery into a large pot and cover with several inches of water.  Add seafood seasoning and salt and pepper to taste and boil 10-15 minutes.
Add sausage and potatoes and boil for 10 minutes.
Add the corn and boil another 5-10 minutes.
Add shrimp and boil 3 minutes.  (This is the tricky part because you don’t want to overcook the shrimp.  I usually add the shrimp and when they turn pink and the water boils I turn off the heat.)
Drain.  Serve on a big platter and let everyone dig in!

*Even if you don’t like blue cheese, you will love this cole slaw.  You can prepare it ahead and then listen to everyone rave and ask you for the recipe.  Perfect for a picnic or covered dish.

2- 16 oz. packages shredded coleslaw mix
2 cups seedless red grapes halved
1 cup mayonnaise (I use a little less.)
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, sugar, and vinegar in a large bowl.  Add the coleslaw and grapes and stir until evenly coated.  Chill until serving.

*Here’s another surprise recipe for those of you who don’t think you like buttermilk.  Give it a try!

3 eggs, beaten
½ cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 unbaked deep-dish pie shell

Combine the eggs, melted butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, and buttermilk in a mixing bow.  Beat well.  Pour into the pie shell and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until the custard is set.  

Okeedookee!  I'm off to play and have a good time!  Talk to you Tuesday!

Friday, May 25, 2012


O.K.  I’m a sucker for brain books.  I think I have read every book that has been written on how brain research can influence teaching practices.  The truth is, I think I knew a great deal about the brain before I read the books.  Good teaching is good teaching!  You KNOW when the kids’ eyes light up and you are making those connections!

The first brain book I read was BRAIN BASED LEARNING by Eric Jensen.  I’ve bought several more recent editions, but it is still my “go to” book.  When I read it 15 years ago I kept thinking, “I know that!  I know that!” because it simply reaffirmed my experiences in the classroom.  Some brain books are a little boring and too heavy on the biological aspects of the brain.  (When I start my car I don’t really care about how the engine works – I just want to know how to make it go.)  I am more interested in how I can improve classroom instruction and get my message to children’s brains than the chemical connections.

A teacher recently recommended BRAIN RULES by John Medina.  It’s a great read!  Seriously!  This guy is an entertaining writer and integrates humor and personal experiences to make his “12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School” come alive.  Look at his list and give yourself ten points if you already do these things.  I bet you'll all score at least 100!!!

1.     Exercise – exercise boosts brain power.
2.    Survival – the brain adapts and evolves.
3.    Wiring – every brain is wired differently.
4.    Attention – we don’t pay attention to boring things.
5.    Short- term memory – you have to repeat to remember.
6.    Long-term memory – remember to repeat.
7.    Sleep – sleep well, think well.
8.    Stress – stressed brains don’t learn the same way.
9.    Sensory integration – stimulate more of the senses.
10.  Vision – vision trumps all other senses.
11.   Gender – male and female brains are different.
12.   Exploration – we are powerful and natural explorers.

Knowledge is power!  The more knowledge of the brain you possess, the more power you have to justify singing, moving, playing games, and making sure children are smiling and truly engaged in learning!

Shut your door and kiss your brains!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


This is the perfect time of year to discuss letter writing – a lost art, but part of most state standards.  Children will easily be able to remember the parts of a letter with this song and the actions. 

Parts of a Letter
(Tune:  “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”)
Head, greeting, body, closing, signature.
Head, greeting, body, closing, signature.
These are the parts of a letter.
Head, greeting, body, closing, signature.

*Point to your head as you say “head.”
Point to your mouth as you say “greeting.”
Point to your body as you say “body.”
Point to your knee as you say “closing.”
Point to your feet as you say “signature.”

After children have written a letter on a sheet of paper, demonstrate how to turn it into an envelope:
  1. Fold the paper in half lengthwise.
  2. Open and fold in top corners to the center crease.
  3. Fold up the bottom edge.
  4. Fold down the top point and secure with a sticker.
  5. Demonstrate how to address the envelope on the front.
*Give the children your home address and tell them if they write you over the summer you will write them back!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Last week I traveled the East coast from Boston to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Asheville.  Check out some of the great ideas teachers shared along the way!

Tick, Tick, Tock  (Heather Anne Angus)
Tick, tick, tock.
Tick, tick, tock.
What time is on the clock?
3:00 o’clock, 3’00 o’clock  (Hold up a play clock as children chant the time.)
And the clock ticks on and on!

Finger Beams  (Debbie McMillan)
You can purchase little lights that attach to the end of your finger from Oriental Trading.  Debbie calls these “ET reading fingers” and uses them to track words, highlight word wall words, choral reading of poems and songs, etc.

ABC Tune  (Marina Attix)
Did you know that you could sing the ABC’s to the tune of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”  It’s great because L M N O P don’t end up sounding like “a lemon and a pea.”

Button Factory Language Unit  (Ann Michael)
Ann used this favorite song as a springboard for the following activities:
Button box – sort, organize, match, describe
Button fashion show – children wear clothing with buttons
Button shirt – put a wide Velcro strip on a child’s shirt.  Put Velcro on          buttons and have children put the buttons on their shirt.
Button sweatshirt – teacher wears a sweatshirt covered with a variety of   buttons and children describe the buttons

Alphabet Remix  (Rita O’Brien)
Sing the regular ABC song and then yell, “REMIX!”
Get the “rapper” attitude and repeat:
         I say, A B C D E F G!  (clap twice)
         H I J K L M N O P  (clap twice)
         Q R S, T U V, W X and Y and Z.
         Now I know my ABC’s.
         Next time, won’t you sing with me? 
         (clap twice - swipe hands to the right)
         (clap twice - swipe hands to the left)
         (clap twice)   AHHHHH!

Classroom Management Trick  (Alison Barnes)
Teacher:   Give me one.
Students:  One.  (clap one time)
Teacher:   Give me four.
Students:  One, two ,three, four. (clap four times)
*You can do this as many times as you want mixing up the numbers.  End by saying:
Teacher:   Give me fingers to lips.
Students:  (Put 2 fingers to lips and smile quietly.)

Take a Picture Walk  (Lauren Martin)
This activity will help children learn to turn pages from the front of the book to the back.  Use two fingers to mimic walking through a book as you chant:
         Walking through the pictures.
         Walking through with speed.
         Walking through the pictures
         And now it’s time to read.
Students close the book to the front and raise their hands to describe the pictures that they saw. 

Questioning Strategy  (Mary Claire Porter)
When the teacher asks a question have the children blow their answer into their closed fist.  When the teacher says, “What is it?” they “release” their answer by opening their hand and saying the answer out loud.

Pick a Letter  (Annie Williams)
Use the tune of “Pick a Bale of Cotton” to reinforce letters and sounds.
Jump down, turn around, pick a letter.
Jump down, turn around, pick a letter.
Oh, Lordy, pick a name object beginning with letter.
Oh, Lordy, pick a name another object beginning with sound.

Animal Reading (Mary Baykouski)
Read predictable books using different animal sounds or whatever theme sound the children suggest.
For example:  The Farm (moo moo)
The boy is on the farm.  (moo moo)

Transition Song  (Sharon Dudley)
Tune:  La Cuckla Racha
Come to the carpet, come to the carpet.
La, la, la, la, la, la, la.
We are ready.
We are listening.
We are ready for some fun, story, math, etc.

Tune:  All the Single Ladies
All the smart people,
All the smart people,
All the smart people
Come to the carpet.
Sit on the carpet.
Put your hands up.
Put your hands down.

Check out Sharon’s blog to learn more about this amazing teacher!

Candyland Adaptation  (Amanda Dalgleish)
Level one - Write the color names on the color cards.
Level two – Make new cards by writing color words in the same color as the word.
Level three – Make cards with just the word written in black.

More Skill Games with Candyland  (Katie Spies)
Make Candyland cards with numerals, word wall words, math facts, etc.  Put harder level words or facts on the double color cards.

Sing and Read (Deb Smelkunson)
Deb found that since the Spanish language doesn’t have rhymes, it helps to sing a story the second time.  She will often ask her students if they want her to sing it or read it.  (They usually choose to hear it sung.)  Sometimes she’ll sing with an opera voice, low voice, etc.  Her students seem to remember the details better when she sings.

Guess Who?  (Gloria DeRusso)
Change the pictures of the characters on the game “Guess Who?” to pictures of the students in your classroom.  You can also use pictures of Presidents or story characters in the game.

Tattle Stopper (Linda Rossiter)
Pick up some old tax forms at the library.  When children start to tattle hand them a form and tell them to fill it out and then bring it back to you.

Alphabet Cookies (Linda Rossiter)
Purchase a cookie sheet and magnetic letters at a dollar store.  Photo copy the letters on paper and then tape the paper to the back of the cookie sheet.  Color the vowels in red.  Add lines at the bottom of the paper.  Children can match up the letters and then select letters to make words at the bottom.  Store extra letters on the baking side of the cookie sheet.

Waiting Gemstones (Dawn Corkran)
Let students pick a stone and decorate it.  When they need help they lay their stone next to the teacher and return to their work until the teacher can help them.  (Most of the time they will solve their own problem.)

Go Tell Puppy  (Yolanda Coppedge)
When children have an issue, they tell it to the toy puppy in their calm down area.

Eating the Alphabet  (Yolanda Coppedge)
You will need upper and lowercase magnetic letters, a bowl, spoon, and alphabet cards.  Each child uses the spoon to scoop out a letter.  They have to name the letter, make the sound, and say something that starts with the sound before matching it to the alphabet card.

Listening Song  (Yolanda Coppedge)
Sing this song to the tune of “Where Is Thumbkin?” to quiet children.
Eyes are forward.  Eyes are forward.
Bodies still.  Bodies still.
Voices are quiet.  Voices are quiet.
Listening ears.  Listening ears.

Line Up Poem  (Shannon Walden)
Hip and lip,
Standing tall.
Now we’re ready
For the hall!

Thinking Time  (Maggie Silver)
Some children are much faster at identifying words.  To give an opportunity to all the kids, when you come to a  new word point to it and slowly say, “1, 2, 3, what word do you see?”  That will give the children extra time to sound out the word.

Who Stole the Sound?  (Candice Hall)
Adapt “Who Stole the Cookie?” to letters.  Write letters on cookie shapes and place them in a bag.  Pass the bag around and as children pull out a letter say:
Who stole the letter sound from the cookie jar?
Child’s name stole the letter sound from the cookie jar!
Who me?
Yes, you!
Couldn’t be.
Then who?

Magic Blends  (Candice Hall)
Write a blend (ex: ST) on a square of paper and place it in a magic container.  Write individual letters in the blend (ex: S and T).  Place these in the container and shake it up.  Pull out the pre-made piece of paper with the blend on it.  This really helps children to visually see how the sounds come together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Last week when I was in Lemoore, CA, Laura Benavrolez translated these finger plays.  (Sorry if I misspelled something and left off accent marks.)


Here is a turtle.                   (Make fist.)
He lives in a shell.                            
He likes his home                            
Very well.                                   
When he gets hungry            (Stick out thumb and wiggle.)
He comes out to eat.                 
Then he goes back into          (Tuck thumb back in fist.)
His house to sleep.        
Aqui hay una tortuga
Ella vive en una concha.
Le gusta su casa muchisimo
Cuando tiene hambre sale a comer
Despues el se regresa
A su casa a dormir.        
I’ve got ten little fingers,         (Hold up both hands.)
And ten little toes,                   (Point to feet.)
Two little eyes,                         (Point to eyes.)
And a mouth and a nose.             (Point mouth and then nose.)
Put them all together,               (Circle arms as if hugging.)
And what have you got?             (Hands on hips.)
You’ve got me, baby,                   (Put thumbs in chest.)
And that’s a lot!                         (Wiggle hips.)
Tengo diez fingers pequenos
Y diez pequenos dedos,
Dos pequenos ojas
Y una voca y una nariz.
Pon los todas juntos,
Y que eso que tienes?
Metienes a mi bebe
Y eso es bastante!
Where is my bunny?               (Begin with hands behind your back.)
No one can see                       (Shake head “no.”)
I think that my bunny
Is hiding from me.                  (Look over shoulder.)
Here is my bunny.                   (Hold up 1 thumb.)
He’s found a friend.                (Hold up other thumb.)
Look at all the others.            (Slowly stick up fingers.)
Now there are ten!
Donde esta mi conejo
Nadie lo puede mirar
Yo pienso que mi conejo
Se esta escondiendo de mi
Aqui esta mi conejo
El encontro un amigo
Mira a todos los demas
Ahora san diez
Ten little friends                     (Hold up fingers.)
Went out to play                      (Wiggle.)
On a very bright
And sunny day.
And they took a little walk.
Walk, walk, walk.                      (Walk fingers in front of your body.)
And they had a little talk.
Talk, talk, talk.                         (Put fingertips together.)
They climbed a great big hill      (Move fingers over your head.)
And stood on the top very still.  (Keep hands still.)
Then they all tumbled down        (Roll hands around and down.)
And fell to the ground.
We’re so tired,                         (Hold up fingers.)
They all said.
So they all went home
And went to bed.
10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 –
5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1.                         (Put down fingers one at a time.)
Good night!                                 (Lay head on hands.)
Diez amigos fueron al parque
En un dia brillante y caloroso
Ellos caminaron un poco
Caminaron, caminaron, caminaron
Y tuvieron una pequena conversacion
Hablaron, hablaron, hablaron
Ellos subieron un grande hill
Y se quedaron sin movimunto
Arriva de la montana
Despues se trompezaron
Y se calleron al suelo
Estamos cansados todos dijieron

Monday, May 21, 2012



(Stand up to begin this rhyme.)

Sunday, Sunday,
         Clap, clap, clap.                         (Clap hands.)
Monday, Monday,
Tap, tap, tap.                           (Tap foot.)
Tuesday, Tuesday,
         Hop, hop, hop.                           (Hop on one foot.)
Wednesday, Wednesday,
Stop, stop, stop.                      (Hold up hand.)
Thursday, Thursday,
         Jump, jump, jump.                     (Jump on two feet.)
Friday, Friday,
         Thump, thump, thump.               (Pound fists together.)
Saturday, Saturday,
         Turn around.                             (Turn around.)
Now smile quietly
         Without a sound!                       (Sit down and smile.)

Roller Coaster Days
Start your hands low and move them up slowly as you say the days of the week.  When you get to the current day raise your voice high and then lower your voice and hands as you say the final days in the week.
For example, Wednesday would go like this:  Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, WEDNESDAY, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I have a precious friend whose husband was very ill for three years.   What an inspiration she was to all of us with her quiet strength, peace, and grace!  With her permission I will share the poem that she used each night as she tucked her husband in bed.  The other poem was said each morning.  I’ve got a feeling that someone reading this blog will find strength in these.
Prayer for the End of the Day
By Carole King
Now I lay me down to sleep
I’ve done my best, my soul’s at peace.
Free to fly among the stars
And journey for a thousand years
Tonight no boundaries hold me down
I’m warm and safe and all tucked in.

Prayer to Start the Day
By Carole King
This is the dawn of the rest of our love
Today we’ll wander, and wonder and find
Another adventure, or mountain to climb
A child to hug, a sorrow to soothe
Music to dance by, a star to embrace
We’ll laugh and make sunshine wherever we go
And I’ll always cherish the gift that you are.